Gothic II

Gothic II is an impressive looking book with over 300 pages. From the title you can conclude that this is a second part, in 2000 the book ‘Gothic – Die Szene in Deutschland aus der Sicht ihrer Macher’. That’s also an interesting book, though I must confess not having read much from it yet. I will do so soon, because this second book has really pleased me.

It’s not a real sequel, you don’t have to read book I first. The most important difference is that this new book has a more international viewpoint on the gothic scene. Gothic is taken in a very broad sense here, something which I appreciate. Old and new bands, varied musical styles (from darkwave to neo-folk), varied subject matter (mainly music, but also fashion, spirituality, photography, and much more). Many articles are written by the musicians themselves, which results in some very entertaining stories. The book is very nicely designed, and contains dozens and dozens of great photos.

Part 1, Music & musicians, features some musicians telling how they got involved in the gothic scene and how their career developed. Monica Richards (Faith & the Muse) tells about her organic development from the punk rock scene in Washington. I very much liked the detailed and personal story from Eric Burton (Catastrophe Ballet), who describes his first encounters with alternative music (seeing Adam Ant on tv) and later about his experiences with Catastophe Ballet, with a US tour and a concert in Mexico as highlights.

I very much like his story about ‘Wellblech’, the independent club which he frequented and where he got to know a lot of music. ‘Niemals wieder hatte ich ein solches gefuhl, am richtigen ort gelandet zu sein. Viele der Songs hatte ich noch nie gehört, und so stand ich viele Abende beim DJ und versuchte auf den rotierenden Labels der Vinylplatten die Namen der Acts zu lesen, um mir dann bei naechster Gelegenheit die Scheiben selber zu bezorgen. Cure, Sisters, Madness, Tuxedomoon, Meteors, Joy Division, Alien Sex Fiend, Front 242. (…) Einige unter euch werden nun denken: Ist ja alles durcheinander? Genau, lieber Synthiepop-, EBM-, Gothicrock-, Industrial- usw. Schubladenmusikliebhaber, volkommen durcheinander deshalb, weil es eben keine Eingrenzungen gab. Es war alles Indie und das war’s! Es gab lediglich die beiden Aufteilungen namens finde ICH gut bzw. finde ICH nicht gut.

One of the highlights in the book is the Clan of Xymox-story, told by Ronny Moorings, from his early years in the squat-scene of Nijmegen and later Amsterdam, his first musical steps, the record deal with 4AD and the following success, the confusing period at the end of the 80’s, when Xymox was experimenting with different styles, to the present succeesful period, which saw a return of Clan of Xymox to its roots. A very readworthy story of over 30 pages.

Also nice to read is the tour diary by Tony Wakeford (Sol Invictus), describing two somewhat improvised live dates in Italy. A nice tale full of dry humour (In Zukunft werde ich nur noch mit Promotern arbeiten, die alt genug sind sich zu rasieren). I already knew this text, it can be found in an English version on the Tursa website.

Part 2, Arts & Poetry, contains drawings, poems, short stories, photos and more, a nice section to look through. Contributors are Monica Richards, Felix Flaucher, Martin Sprissler, J.G. Thirlwell and other well-known scene names. Very entertaining is are the two texts by Grenzwellen-DJ Ecki Stieg. The first one describes what happens backstage at concerts, and especially the second piece ‘I am the DJ’ is funny, in which he divides the audience at parties from a DJ point-of-view in different stereotypes, like Das Electro-Weib, Das 80er-Jahre-Relikt, Der ‘befreundete’ DJ and many more.

The last part, Thoughts & Philosophy, deals with ‘deeper’ aspects like religion, death and politics. Interesting to read was the text by Andreas Ritter (Forseti), entitled Die Geister die ich Rief, named after a brochure by die Grufties gegen Rechts, which deals with right-wing tendencies in the gothic and especially neofolk scene. Ritter explains that he and Forseti have no political aims, that the themes of Forseti deal mostly with nature and paganism. ‘Diese Lebensart is vielmehr Idealismus als religion oder Politik. Gerade diese Aspekte wie natur, Romantik, Magie und eine Haltung gegen das gangige Lenesbild eines durchschnittlichen Konsummenschen sind die Beruhrungspunkte, die der Neofolk der Schwarzen Szene bietet.’ The fact that he writes his lyrics in German and the references to German history must also not be explained in a political manner. He hopes that his music gives something positive to listeners; some power, hope, feeling. Ein unbedarfter Neofolk-Hörer will sein Leben fuhren, sein Musik hören, ohne sich dabei fur vereinzelte rechte Tendenzen oder Fehltritte anderer zu veruntschuldigen.

Certainly a recommended book, produced with a lot of dedication and with a great deal of variety, for people with broad interests in all aspects of the gothic scene.